The 'gender gap' is about marriage

Published on Friday, 4 April 2014 23:43 - Written by

It’s astonishing how deaf on some issues the left can be. The latest example — yet another screed on the supposed Republican “war on women” — comes from Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. In trying to expose a gathering of conservative women, Milbank merely exposes his own disconnect from the world outside the circles of the Washington elite.

“The conservative minds of the Heritage Foundation have found a way for Republicans to shrink the gender gap: They need to persuade more women to get their MRS degrees,” Milbank says. “The advocacy group held a gathering of women of the right Monday afternoon to mark the final day of Women’s History Month — and the consensus was that women ought to go back in history. If Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg’s mantra is ‘lean in,’ these women were proposing that women lean back: get married, take care of kids and let men earn the wages.”

Is that really the message of conservative women? Let’s look at what was actually said — and reported by Milbank himself.

Mona Charen, a columnist whose work appears in the Tyler Paper twice weekly, spoke about equality.

“We’re gathered to celebrate Women’s History Month, but I don’t celebrate Women’s History Month,” said Charen, one of the panelists. “It doesn’t interest me whether a person who happens to share my chromosomes sits in the Oval Office. It doesn’t interest me how many women members of the Senate there are.”

To the rest of us, that sounds an awful lot like a gender-blind attitude that focuses not on identity politics, but on real-world policies.

Milbank also ridicules Charen’s simple acknowledgement that statistically, women (and men) are happier and more productive in a marriage.

“If we truly want women to thrive,” Charen said, “we have to revive the marriage norm.”

She’s merely repeating what she’s said in these pages often.

“Without the basics of security and permanence in their personal lives, people find it much more difficult to rise out of poverty or maintain middle class lifestyles,” she wrote in December. “They are also far less happy. If you care about the poor and the middle class, you ought to worry about marriage.”

Most studies and statistics back this up.

That doesn’t faze Milbank. He goes on to acknowledge there’s no real “gender gap” in voting trends; there’s a “marriage gap.”

“As a matter of statistics, this is true: President Obama’s 11-point win among women in 2012 came entirely from his 36-point advantage among unmarried women,” he wrote. “But Republicans will be waiting a long time if they think they can improve their fortunes by persuading more women to get hitched.”

No, that’s not what conservative women such as Mona Charen are saying. What they and decades of social science are saying is that feminism has left most women behind.

When the left says there’s a GOP “war on women,” they ignore the real issues most women care about — the economy and the well-being of their families, for example. If only Milbank could hear the voices of women who don’t agree with him.